Skyline High School Football Stadium Named After Legendary Coach Roger DuPaix
Jan 04, 2016 01:17PM
● By Bryan Scott
By Sarah Almond
Cottonwood-Holladay October 23 was a monumental day for Skyline High School football: prior to their game against the Olympus Titans, Skyline football players, coaching staff and members of the school’s administration honored legendary former head coach Roger DuPaix by naming their new field after him.
DuPaix, a Los Angeles, Calif. native, came to Utah in 1959 to play lineman on the BYU football team. After graduating with a degree in physical education from BYU in 1962, DuPaix traveled to New Zealand on a LDS mission. He returned in 1965 and became a graduate assistant at BYU before serving a tour of duty in the Vietnam War.
Upon his return from Vietnam, DuPaix worked as assistant football coach for both Granite High School and Cottonwood High School. In 1977, Highland High School hired him on as head coach of their football team; little did DuPaix know this was just the beginning of his successful 35-year coaching career.
“Making the transition to Skyline High School was a very hard decision,” DuPaix said. “I was at Highland for nine years, but sometimes the heavens smile down on you and tell you that maybe you should make a move.”
Though DuPaix knew the Highland football team was a very talented group (they won the State Championship the year DuPaix left), he and his wife, Edie, decided it was time for a change.
In the summer of 1986, DuPaix began the first of 26 seasons with the Skyline Eagles.
“A lot of the coaches on my staff, myself included, played for Coach DuPaix,” said current head coach Justin Thompson. “We have kind of a family of coaches at Skyline that have all come from him, in addition to two of his sons who are football coaches as well.”
Thompson played defensive back and running back for the Skyline Eagles in 1991 through 1993. Immediately after graduating in the spring of 1993, DuPaix hired Thompson on as an assistant coach for the team’s sophomore group.
After DuPaix retired in 2011, assistant coach and former player Steve Marlowe took over as head coach of Skyline for one year before passing the position to Thompson.
“Some of my best friends are the coaches of Skyline – they are wonderful people and wonderful coaches and it is really great to see my friends still there and still coaching and carrying on a great tradition,” DuPaix said.
Team traditions and holding the team to the same high moral standards as DuPaix is something Coach Thompson tries hard to retain. One tradition in particular, however, has had a way of sticking with both past and present players.
“Coach DuPaix had an expectation that every time you entered the playing field, you were always jogging or running,” Thompson said. “And though that’s a pretty typical thing that other coaches do, Coach [DuPaix] wanted you to chant ‘go, go, go’ while you were running on the field.”
For many 14-year-old and 15-year-old boys, this expectation can seem both unusual and embarrassing.
“I went to a clinic and heard a coach talk about it,” DuPaix said, when explaining the origin of the tradition. “And I thought ‘you know, I’m so sick of seeing kids come out to the football field and just kind of walk around and saunter and poke each other.’ So we set up a boundary around the field and every time a player was in the boundary, they had to jog and chant ‘go, go, go.’”
This tradition instantly embedded a new sense of work ethic in the Skyline football program.
“On the other side of the boundary players can joke, and pinch each other and do whatever they want to do,” DuPaix said, “But once they step on the football field, it’s work and it’s team – it’s oneness and it’s hustle.”
The work ethic, drive and moral responsibility that DuPaix encouraged decades ago continues to be a driving force on the Skyline team today.
“I certainly haven’t been able to reproduce Coach’s success. Competitively, he was one of the top coaches in the country and his run at Skyline was legendary,” Thompson said.
Though the football stadium at Skyline hasn’t seen much renovation since the 1960’s, the school recently installed a new turf field and replaced the old scoreboard. For many at Skyline High School, it was unquestionable that the changes should be dedicated and honored to DuPaix.
“I don’t think there is anybody who played for Coach DuPaix whose life wasn’t positively affected by him,” Thompson said. “I’m certainly not Coach DuPaix and can’t try or pretend to be, so I’ve had to do things my own way, but at the foundation of Skyline football there is definitely a lot of Coach DuPaix.”